After my physician got done showing me the X-rays of my spine, I felt like I had aged 50 years. My wife says I am over reacting. Is this normal?
Medical terms often used to explain diagnostic results of tests and imaging studies can have a profound effect on how a patient perceives his or her potential for healing. Focusing on repair and healing of disc problems rather than discussing ongoing damage may be a more helpful and positive approach in managing low back pain.
Labels and beliefs about those words are something health care workers may need to re-evaluate. As the results of a recent study showed, messages regarding low back pain and how patients perceive the words health care professionals use have an important effect on their prognosis.
For example, when told that the cause of their low back pain was disc degeneration, some people interpreted that to means their spine was crumbling or collapsing. Use of the term wear and tear by the physician was used later by the patient to say that everything was wearing out.
Medical reports from radiologists reading and interpreting imaging studies contain words like degeneration, which may have nothing to do with the patient's symptoms. There have been plenty of studies that show the severity of changes observed on X-rays often have no correlation to patient symptoms.
For instance, it has been observed that some people with what looks like severe degeneration of the spine have no symptoms whatsoever. At the same time, there are others who report excruciating pain with nothing seen on X-rays to indicate a problem.
Your reaction is very typical of many other patients. The important thing to know is that what was seen on the X-ray may not really have much to do with your prognosis. The ability to get pain relief and experience a "cure" may have more to do with what you believe about your condition than the actual condition itself.